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When it comes to direct marketing—a targeted approach aimed at reaching potential customers directly—you have to keep continuously learning. Books are such a great way to keep up with theoretical knowledge and tips, so I've taken the liberty of creating a list of the best direct marketing books I know.

With this list of recommendations, I feel confident that you'll be brought swiftly up to speed with the innovative technologies and strategies essential to direct marketing today. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

17 Best Direct Marketing Books Shortlist

Having devoured these pages myself, I've handpicked books perfectly addressing your direct marketing challenges.

  1. No BS Direct Marketing: The Ultimate No-Holds-Barred Kick-Butt Take-No-Prisoners Direct Marketing for Non-Direct Marketing Businesses (No BS Series) by Dan S. Kennedy
  2. Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy
  3. Social Media Marketing Workbook: How to Use Social Media for Business (2023 Marketing - Social Media, SEO, & Online Ads Books) by Jason McDonald, Ph.D.
  4. ISE Marketing Management (ISE HED IRWIN MARKETING) by Greg W. Marshall and Mark W. Johnston
  5. The Direct Mail Solution: A Business Owner's Guide to Building a Lead-Generating, Sales-Driving, Money-Making Direct-Mail Campaign by Craig Simpsons
  6. Scientific Advertising: 21 Advertising, Headline, and Copywriting Techniques by Claude Hopkins
  7. The Content Marketing Handbook: How to Double the Results of Your Marketing Campaigns by Robert W. Bly
  8. Direct Mail Marketing: What Works? What Doesn't Work? How To Know The Difference by Joel N Greene, Ph.D.
  9. No B.S. Guide to Brand-Building by Direct Response Marketing: The Ultimate No Holds-Barred Plan to Creating and Profiting from a Powerful Brand Without Buying It by Dan S. Kennedy
  10. Mission, Market, Message: The Actionable Guide to Marketing for Small Business Owners by Anna K. McKenzie
  11. DotCom Secrets: The Underground Playbook for Growing Your Company Online by Russell Brunson
  12. Ultimate Guide to Social Media Marketing by Eric Butow, Jenn Hermana, and Stephanie Liu
  13. The 1-Page Marketing Plan by Allan Dib
  14. The Ultimate Sales Letter: Attract New Customers, Boost Your Sales by Dan S. Kennedy
  15. Making Ads Pay: Timeless Tips for Successful Copywriting (Dover Books on History, Political and Social Science) by John Caples
  16. Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers Into Friends, And Friends Into Customers by Seth Godin
  17. 300 Email Marketing Tips: Critical Advice And Strategy To Turn Subscribers Into Buyers & Grow A Six-Figure Business With Email by Meera Kothand

Overviews of The 17 Best Direct Marketing Books

1. No BS Direct Marketing: The Ultimate No-Holds-Barred Kick-Butt Take-No-Prisoners Direct Marketing for Non-Direct Marketing Businesses (No BS Series) by Dan S. Kennedy

No BS Direct Marketing: The Ultimate No-Holds-Barred Kick-Butt Take-No-Prisoners Direct Marketing for Non-Direct Marketing Businesses (No BS Series) by Dan S. Kennedy direct marketing books

Summary:

Dan Kennedy's "No BS Direct Marketing" is a tour de force in direct marketing. This comprehensive guide provides the basics and offers advanced strategies, making it a must-read for businesses, whether they're rooted in direct marketing or not.

What You'll Learn:

Unveil the power of direct response marketing, learn the steps to take your business to the next level, and understand the significance of the 'Message-to-Market match.’ Kennedy also dispels many myths around conventional advertising and offers a solid roadmap to navigate the challenging terrains of modern marketing.

Why You Should Read It:

This is it if you're seeking a book that provides actionable insights and straightforward advice without the usual fluff. Kennedy's experience and clarity shine through, making it an invaluable resource for amplifying their marketing efforts.

Quote From The Book:

"Your business is invisible to your prospects. You have to make it visible."

About The Author:

Dan S. Kennedy is a marketing legend known for his direct and no-nonsense approach. He's an influential speaker, consultant, and author of numerous best-selling books. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

2. Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy

Summary:

David Ogilvy's seminal work, "Ogilvy on Advertising", delves into advertising with precision, wit, and unparalleled expertise. Ogilvy shares his vast knowledge and insights, making it an essential read for anyone remotely connected to the advertising realm.

What You'll Learn:

Ogilvy covers a broad range of topics, from effective advertising and research principles to the intricacies of print ads, television commercials, and direct marketing. He also offers his predictions for the future of advertising, many of which remain startlingly relevant today.

Why You Should Read It:

This is a foundational text, providing both a historical perspective and timeless advice. Whether you're a seasoned advertising professional or starting Ogilvy's wisdom can guide your strategies and campaigns.

Quote From The Book:

"Don't bunt. Aim out of the ballpark. Aim for the company of immortals."

About The Author:

David Ogilvy is often hailed as "The Father of Advertising.” A pioneer in his field, he founded Ogilvy & Mather, one of the world's most renowned advertising agencies. Connect with his legacy on his website.

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3. Social Media Marketing Workbook: How to Use Social Media for Business (2023 Marketing - Social Media, SEO, & Online Ads Books) by Jason McDonald, Ph.D.

Social Media Marketing Workbook: How to Use Social Media for Business (2023 Marketing - Social Media, SEO, & Online Ads Books) by Jason McDonald, Ph.D. direct marketing books

Summary:

Jason McDonald's workbook is a comprehensive guide designed to simplify the complexity of leveraging social media for business. It’s a practical handbook that navigatively walks through each social media marketing step social media marketing across various platforms.

What You'll Learn:

Delve into the nuances of each significant social media platform with hands-on tutorials. You’ll gain insights into SEO, crafting effective online ads, and implementing strategies that yield results. The book provides access to various online resources, making it an interactive experience.

Why You Should Read It:

If you need a guide that’s not only informative but also interactive and engaging, this workbook is an indispensable asset. It’s structured to cater to beginners and experienced marketers looking to refresh their knowledge.

Quote From The Book:

"Effective social media marketing isn’t about being on all networks; it’s about dominating on a few."

About The Author:

Dr. Jason McDonald is an expert in SEO, social media marketing, and AdWords. He teaches marketing at the San Francisco Bay Area and online. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

4. ISE Marketing Management (ISE HED IRWIN MARKETING) by Greg W. Marshall and Mark W. Johnston

ISE Marketing Management (ISE HED IRWIN MARKETING) by Greg W. Marshall and Mark W. Johnston direct marketing books

Summary:

Marshall and Johnston’s “ISE Marketing Management” is a reservoir of marketing wisdom, combining theoretical frameworks with real-world applications. It offers a detailed exploration of effective marketing management's fundamental concepts and practices of marketing management.

What You'll Learn:

From understanding customer behaviors and needs to devising strategic marketing plans, this book provides a roadmap for effective decision-making. It incorporates the latest marketing trends, offering a balanced view of the challenges and opportunities in the field.

Why You Should Read It:

Designed for students and professionals alike, it’s a resource that equips you with the skills and knowledge required to successfully navigate the dynamic world of marketing.

Quote From The Book:

"Marketing management is a business discipline focused on the practical application of marketing techniques and managing a firm's marketing resources and activities."

About The Author:

Greg W. Marshall is the Charles Harwood Professor of Marketing and Strategy at the Crummer Graduate School of Business. Dr. Mark W. Johnston is the Alan and Sandra Gerry Professor of Marketing and Ethics at Crummer Graduate School of Business.

5. The Direct Mail Solution: A Business Owner's Guide to Building a Lead-Generating, Sales-Driving, Money-Making Direct-Mail Campaign by Craig Simpson

The Direct Mail Solution: A Business Owner's Guide to Building a Lead-Generating, Sales-Driving, Money-Making Direct-Mail Campaign by Craig Simpson direct marketing books

Summary:

Craig Simpson's work serves as a comprehensive guide for business owners looking to harness the power of direct mail. This book illuminatively details the process of crafting compelling, lead-generating, and sales-driving direct mail campaigns.

What You'll Learn:

Unpack the elements of a successful direct mail campaign from conception to execution. Simpson covers crucial components like list selection, tracking, testing, and analysis, providing a blueprint for engaging potential customers effectively and maximizing ROI.

Why You Should Read It:

For entrepreneurs eager to unlock the potential of direct mail, Simpson’s guide is a treasure trove of practical tips and insider knowledge that demystifies the process and sets you up for success.

Quote From The Book:

“Direct mail is really the only medium that allows you to accurately measure the success of your efforts.”

About The Author:

Craig Simpson is a noted direct marketing consultant and owner of Simpson Direct, Inc., which specializes in direct mail, postcard marketing, and lead generation. Connect with him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and website.

6. Scientific Advertising: 21 Advertising, Headline, and Copywriting Techniques by Claude Hopkins

Scientific Advertising: 21 Advertising, Headline, and Copywriting Techniques by Claude Hopkins direct marketing books

Summary:

In "Scientific Advertising", Claude Hopkins presents timeless advertising principles with the precision and flair that made him a marketing legend. This book is a classic, providing invaluable insights into the art and science of effective advertising.

What You'll Learn:

Hopkins explores essential advertising facets, including the significance of headlines, the art of copywriting, and the importance of testing. He shares techniques grounded in understanding consumer psychology and behavior, which remain relevant in today’s digital age.

Why You Should Read It:

“Scientific Advertising” is an indispensable read for those seeking foundational advertising is a vital read. Its universal principles provide a lens through which modern marketers can refine their craft and strategy.

Quote From The Book:

“The only purpose of advertising is to make sales. It is profitable or unprofitable according to its actual sales.”

About The Author:

Claude Hopkins was a pioneer in advertising and is often regarded as one of the great advertising minds of the 20th century. His work continues to influence marketers and advertisers worldwide.

7. The Content Marketing Handbook: How to Double the Results of Your Marketing Campaigns by Robert W. Bly

The Content Marketing Handbook: How to Double the Results of Your Marketing Campaigns by Robert W. Bly direct marketing books

Summary:

Robert W. Bly’s handbook is a robust guide for marketers aiming to double the results of their content marketing campaigns effectivelymarketing campaigns. The book provides a comprehensive overview, strategy-building techniques, and practical tips for marketers of all levels.

What You'll Learn:

You’ll gain insights into crafting compelling content that resonates, developing an efficient content marketing strategy, and leveraging various channels to distribute content effectively. Bly covers the fundamentals while offering advanced tips for enhancing the performance of your marketing campaigns.

Why You Should Read It:

If you are pursuing elevating the efficiency and effectiveness of your content marketing efforts, this handbook is an invaluable resource, providing a roadmap to crafting campaigns that yield substantial results.

Quote From The Book:

“Content marketing is about creating and sharing valuable free content to attract and convert prospects into customers – and customers into repeat buyers.”

About The Author:

Robert W. Bly is a renowned author and marketing consultant with decades of experience in the field of content marketing. Connect with him on Twitter and official publisher page.

8. Direct Mail Marketing: What Works? What Doesn't Work? How To Know The Difference by Joel N Greene, Ph.D.

Direct Mail Marketing: What Works? What Doesn't Work? How To Know The Difference by Joel N Greene, Ph.D. direct marketing books

Summary:

In this insightful book, Joel N Greene, Ph., dives deep into direct mail marketing, exploring what strategies work, what doesn't, and how to distinguish between the two, offering readers a straightforward guide on navigating this marketing avenue effectively.

What You'll Learn:

Learn the nuances of a successful direct mail marketing campaign, understand how to avoid common pitfalls, and discover proven effective strategies. Greene provides a mix of theory and practical advice to help marketers make informed decisions and craft campaigns that resonate with their target audience.

Why You Should Read It:

For marketers seeking clarity on the do's and don’ts of direct mail marketing, Greene’s book is a beacon, shedding light on strategies that drive success and those that lead to failure, helping you make the most out of your marketing efforts.

Quote From The Book:

“The effectiveness of direct mail marketing is not just about the message but also how it is framed and delivered.”

About The Author:

Joel N Greene, Ph.D., is an expert in marketing focusing on direct mail strategies. With a rich academic background and practical experience, he offers valuable insights into the marketing field.

9. No B.S. Guide to Brand-Building by Direct Response Marketing: The Ultimate No Holds-Barred Plan to Creating and Profiting from a Powerful Brand Without Buying It by Dan S. Kennedy

No B.S. Guide to Brand-Building by Direct Response Marketing: The Ultimate No Holds-Barred Plan to Creating and Profiting from a Powerful Brand Without Buying It by Dan S. Kennedy direct marketing books

Summary:

Dan S. Kennedy delivers a no-nonsense guide to building a powerful, profit-generating brand through direct response marketing. This book offers a unique plan for entrepreneurs and marketers to create a strong brand presence without breaking the bank.

What You'll Learn:

Kennedy provides strategies for brand-building with a direct response marketing focus, sharing insights on crafting messages that resonate and convert. You'll uncover how to profit from your brand, navigating the market with a compelling presence that engages and retains customers.

Why You Should Read It:

Kennedy's guide is a must-read for readers keen on understanding the synergy between brand-building and direct response marketing, Kennedy’s guide is a must-read. It's a resource packed with actionable strategies for building a brand that stands out and generates profits.

Quote From The Book:

"Remember, the best brand-building is direct response."

About The Author:

Dan S. Kennedy is a strategic advisor, consultant, and influential speaker in marketing. He’s authored numerous books, sharing decades of experience with readers around the globe. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

10. Mission, Market, Message: The Actionable Guide to Marketing for Small Business Owners by Anna K. McKenzie

Mission, Market, Message: The Actionable Guide to Marketing for Small Business Owners by Anna K. McKenzie direct marketing books

Summary:

Anna K. McKenzie's book serves as a hands-on guide for small business owners navigating the complexities of the marketing landscape. It offers actionable insights and practical strategies to effectively communicate with your market, delivering your brand's message with impact.

What You'll Learn:

McKenzie elucidates the core components of effective marketing: understanding your mission, identifying your market, and crafting a compelling message. Readers will learn to align these elements seamlessly to create marketing strategies that resonate with their audience and drive business growth.

Why You Should Read It:

This is a must-have resource for small business owners looking for a straightforward, actionable approach to marketing. McKenzie's guide demystifies the marketing process, providing readers with the tools they need to succeed in today's competitive business environment.

Quote From The Book:

"Your mission is your compass, your market is your map, and your message is your voice."

About The Author:

Anna K. McKenzie is a seasoned marketing professional with a passion for helping small businesses thrive. With her extensive experience and practical approach to marketing, she empowers entrepreneurs to reach and engage their target audience effectively. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

11. DotCom Secrets: The Underground Playbook for Growing Your Company Online by Russell Brunson

DotCom Secrets: The Underground Playbook for Growing Your Company Online by Russell Brunson direct marketing books

Summary:

Russell Brunson’s “DotCom Secrets” is an essential playbook for anyone looking to expand their company online. It unveils proven strategies and techniques invaluable for start-ups and established businesses in the digital landscape.

What You'll Learn:

Brunson offers insights into enhancing your online presence, building effective sales funnels, and creating a loyal customer base. He shares secrets that assist businesses in navigating the digital arena, driving traffic, and converting visitors into customers seamlessly.

Why You Should Read It:

If you’re venturing into online business or looking to bolster your company’s digital footprint, “DotCom Secrets” is a treasure trove of wisdom and practical advice that can significantly influence your online success.

Quote From The Book:

“All you need is a product, and an effective funnel, and the framework to build it out.”

About The Author:

Russell Brunson is a serial entrepreneur, author, and co-founder of ClickFunnels. He has helped countless businesses thrive in the digital space with his innovative approaches to marketing. Connect with him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and website.

12. Ultimate Guide to Social Media Marketing by Eric Butow, Jenn Herman, and Stephanie Liu

Ultimate Guide to Social Media Marketing by Eric Butow, Jenn Herman, and Stephanie Liu direct marketing books

Summary:

The collaborative expertise of Butow, Herman, and Liu comes alive in this comprehensive guide, offering readers a deep dive into the vast world of social media marketing. This book systematically demystifies the complexities of various platforms and provides strategies tailored for maximum impact.

What You'll Learn:

Explore the intricacies of top social media platforms, from content creation to engagement tactics. You'll understand how to effectively use tools, track metrics, and craft compelling campaigns that resonate with your audience, ensuring your brand remains at the forefront of the digital conversation.

Why You Should Read It:

In an age where social media dominates communication, this guide equips marketers with the know-how to navigate these platforms effectively. With actionable insights, it's a resource that transforms your social media presence from mundane to magnetic.

Quote From The Book:

"Effective social media marketing goes beyond mere presence—it's about engagement and genuine customer connection."

About The Author:

Eric Butow is a renowned digital communication expert. Connect with him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and website. Jenn Herman is a leading Instagram marketing strategist. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, and website.

Stephanie Liu is an influential live video marketing expert. Connect with her on LinkedIn, and website.

13. The 1-Page Marketing Plan by Allan Dib

The 1-Page Marketing Plan by Allan Dib direct marketing books

Summary:

Allan Dib provides a transformative approach to marketing with "The 1-Page Marketing Plan". This book simplifies the marketing journey, helping businesses create a practical blueprint on a single page.

What You'll Learn:

Dib presents a step-by-step guide on crafting a concise yet comprehensive marketing plan. The book focuses on clarity, ensuring that marketers have a clear vision, strategy, and execution path while eliminating the often overwhelming complexities of traditional marketing plans.

Why You Should Read It:

Dib's approach is a revelation for businesses seeking to streamline their marketing process and get more done with less. The book provides a simple and effective roadmap, ensuring your marketing strategies align with your business goals.

Quote From The Book:

"When you market to everyone, you market to no one."

About The Author:

Allan Dib is a serial entrepreneur, rebellious marketer, and technology expert. With a passion for simplifying the complex, he's transformed how many businesses approach marketing. Connect with him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and website.

14. The Ultimate Sales Letter: Attract New Customers, Boost Your Sales by Dan S. Kennedy

The Ultimate Sales Letter: Attract New Customers, Boost Your Sales by Dan S. Kennedy direct marketing books

Summary:

In "The Ultimate Sales Letter", Dan S. Kennedy provides invaluable insights and strategies for crafting sales letters that grab attention and persuade and convert prospects into customers, making it a must-read for sales and marketing professionals.

What You'll Learn:

Kennedy unveils the secrets to writing compelling sales letters, including understanding your target audience, crafting persuasive offers, and employing psychological triggers effectively. The book is a treasure trove of tips and techniques that enhance your copywriting skills and boost sales.

Why You Should Read It:

If crafting compelling sales copy that converts is your goal, Kennedy’s book is your go-to guide. With practical advice and examples, it equips you with the skills needed to write sales letters that resonate and drive results.

Quote From The Book:

"People are silently begging to be led. Tell them exactly what you want them to do."

About The Author:

Dan S. Kennedy is a highly regarded marketing consultant, popular speaker, and author of numerous bestselling books in the field of sales and marketing. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

15. Making Ads Pay: Timeless Tips for Successful Copywriting (Dover Books on History, Political and Social Science) by John Caples

Making Ads Pay: Timeless Tips for Successful Copywriting (Dover Books on History, Political and Social Science) by John Caples direct marketing books

Summary:

John Caples’ “Making Ads Pay” is a classic in advertising literature, brimming with timeless tips and invaluable advice for crafting successful advertisements. This book is essential reading for anyone looking to understand the art and science of creating ads that resonate and convert.

What You'll Learn:

Dive into various topics, including headline writing, layout strategies, and compelling copywriting practices. Caples shares proven techniques and principles that help advertisers craft messages that capture attention and drive action and sales.

Why You Should Read It:

With wisdom distilled from years of experience, this book is a beacon for advertisers and marketers seeking to craft ads that are not just seen but also remembered and acted upon.

Quote From The Book:

“The most frequent reason for unsuccessful advertising is advertisers who are so full of their accomplishments that they forget to tell us why we should buy.”

About The Author:

John Caples was a legendary advertising executive known for his innovative and highly effective copywriting techniques, many of which are still used by marketers today.

16. Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers Into Friends, And Friends Into Customers by Seth Godin

Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers Into Friends, And Friends Into Customers by Seth Godin direct marketing books

Summary:

“Permission Marketing” by Seth Godin introduces a revolutionary approach to marketing where the focus shifts from intrusive advertising to building consensual and meaningful relationships with customers, turning strangers into friends and friends into loyal customers.

What You'll Learn:

Godin illuminatively discusses the concept of 'Permission Marketing', explaining how gaining customer consent for marketing engagements leads to more effective and impactful advertising strategies. Learn how to foster trust and interest among potential customers, enhancing the likelihood of conversion and brand loyalty.

Why You Should Read It:

If you're in pursuit of a marketing strategy that respects the consumer while effectively promoting products, Godin’s groundbreaking book is a guide you shouldn't miss. It offers a respectful and mutually beneficial approach to connecting with customers in the noisy digital marketplace.

Quote From The Book:

“Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.”

About The Author:

Seth Godin is an acclaimed author, entrepreneur, and marketer known for his innovative thoughts and ideas in the field of marketing. Connect with him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and website.

17. 300 Email Marketing Tips: Critical Advice And Strategy To Turn Subscribers Into Buyers & Grow A Six-Figure Business With Email by Meera Kothand

300 Email Marketing Tips: Critical Advice And Strategy To Turn Subscribers Into Buyers & Grow A Six-Figure Business With Email by Meera Kothand direct marketing books

Summary:

“300 Email Marketing Tips” by Meera Kothand is an indispensable guide that serves as a reservoir of practical advice and strategy to elevate your email marketing game. This book is designed to guide you from being an email marketing novice to mastering the art and science of effective communication with subscribers, turning them into loyal buyers.

What You'll Learn:

Within the pages, you'll discover a plethora of tips including how to create compelling content, designing emails for optimum engagement, segmenting your subscriber list for personalized communication, and understanding how to leverage email marketing analytics tools to refine your strategy. Kothand’s tips cover every aspect of email marketing, providing you with actionable advice that can be implemented immediately to grow a six-figure business.

Why You Should Read It:

This book is a valuable resource if you envision transforming your email subscribers into buyers and cultivating a thriving business. Kothand’s clear and concise tips provide a roadmap for successful email marketing, helping you navigate through common pitfalls and capitalize on opportunities.

Quote From The Book:

“Think of every email you send as a tiny sales page that moves the subscriber to take action.”

About The Author:

Meera Kothand is a renowned email marketing specialist, author, and business strategist who is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and marketers improve their email marketing efforts. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, and website.

What Direct Marketing Books Do You Recommend?

Economics and budgeting play crucial roles in shaping effective direct marketing campaigns. Many of the books I recommend have even been touted as best books in major hubs like New York.

As someone who values continuous learning and believes in the power of community, I'd love to hear from you. If there's a direct marketing book you've found invaluable—one that perhaps didn't make this list—please share. After all, the world of direct marketing is vast, and there's always room to learn, grow, and refine our techniques.

Stephanie Hood
By Stephanie Hood

Stephanie Hood is an experienced marketing professional and Editor of The CMO. With nearly a decade spent as Marketing Manager at Discover Holidays and Executive Editor at VIVA Lifestyle & Travel, she built her career leading editorial and marketing teams and strategies that turn six-figure budgets into seven-figure profits. She now enjoys connecting with the world's top executives to learn their secrets to business success, and shares those insights right here with her community of like-minded professionals. Curious what she’s uncovered? Be sure to sign up for The CMO newsletter.